IT’S often said that, when you compare somebody with an opposing point of view to the Nazis, you’ve lost the argument.

If that’s true, a letter I received last week didn’t take long to self-combust.

“The mainstream medical media in Australia are no better than the Nazi Party propaganda machine from World War II,” it said, comparing the actions of today’s medical journalists with those of the war criminals tried at Nuremberg.

The anonymous letter was sent by post, personally addressed to me in a way that indicated the sender had done some minor investigative work.

Signed “A Patriotic Australian”, it included a PO Box address that has apparently also been used in similar letters sent to health professionals and other journalists.

Bristling with American-style rhetoric – “We the People demand …” – the missive contained among other things an apparent death threat.

“The Global Cabal, Our Tyrannical Government and Mockingbird Fake News Media will ultimately lose this war, which they have declared on humanity. We, the living men, women and children of the land known as Australia, will be the victors and the results will be swift and final,” the letter read.

“We believe the crimes you are involved in are acts of genocide.”

And then in bold type: “The death penalty is enforceable for those who are convicted of genocide. Will this be YOU?”

I wrote earlier this year about the abuse some health experts have received for speaking publicly about the impact of COVID-19.

That’s an ongoing issue. Sydney virologist Professor Dominic Dwyer told The Guardian last week he’d been called a traitor to his country after travelling to Wuhan to investigate the origins of COVID-19 on behalf of the World Health Organization.

And it’s not just those in the public eye. I’ve also written about the abuse of customer service staff seeking to enforce COVID-19 rules.

A Melbourne bookshop last week revealed it had been forced to hire security after physical attacks on staff by customers refusing to follow the rules. One worker had allegedly been pushed down an escalator.

The same week, a Melbourne café owner said he was afraid to go to work after vandals damaged his premises, leaving this sign: “Do what Daniel Andrews says and we will burn your shop down.”

At first glance, the threat I received might seem as silly as other claims in the letter, such as those declaring the pandemic to be both “fake” and “planned”.

It’s a sad fact that anybody who publicly advocates for a scientific approach on contentious issues has to learn to tolerate a certain amount of abuse. Whether the subject matter is vaccines or climate change, it comes with the territory.

But threats of violence, whether directed at health professionals, journalists or retail staff, can’t be ignored.

“We have been watching and recording each of your actions,” my letter says.

“If you fail to correct your corrupt position, you will surely be held to account. At some time in the future, the investigations will flow unhindered and there will be no limiting force to stay the hand of lawful justice…

“We See You.”

Laughable, yes, but maybe a bit more than a joke.

Jane McCredie is a Sydney-based science and health writer.



The statements or opinions expressed in this article reflect the views of the authors and do not represent the official policy of the AMA, the MJA or InSight+ unless so stated.

9 thoughts on “Laughable threats no joke

  1. Mark Kennedy says:

    I see a number of anons here. And having been prescribed Olanzapine off label once and harmed by it, I find that particular comment irrational and irresponsible coming from a doctor.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Be careful what you wish for.

    Calling them ‘disordered and deluded’ would probably only apply to the ones who don’t agree with you, and ‘denying views any oxygen’ will only be acceptable to you for as long as you’re in charge.

  3. ex-doctor says:

    Professor Stuart Russell an authority on artificial intelligence in the first of his Reith Lectures had some chilling observations on the Chernobyl level disaster inflicted on the world by social media. Jane’s experience strongly reinforces professor Russell’s point. Strongly recommend listening or downloading the transcript.
    The link is active only for a few days.

  4. Dr R says:

    Maybe it’s time to put olanzapine in the drinking water after all.

  5. DrPhil says:

    The Covid pandemic has certainly brought all the thought disordered and deluded people out of the woodwork, especially on social media. The underlying problem is that, thanks to freedom of thought, people are allowed to believe what they want to believe in this country whether it is evidence based or not. Such delusions are institutionalized in out society. Will “community psychiatry” ever be permitted to address the issue?
    Even though that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence, the problem is very much psychological. Trying to argue rationally with these people is usually described as “pigeon chess”.
    It does make life interesting and varied,

  6. Dr Greg Mewett (Palliative Care Physician) says:

    BTW, a recent academic paper on medical conspiracy theories is very informative!
    It doesn’t help us to deal with threats but understanding “the enemy”, so to speak, is important.

    Andrade, G. 2020. ‘Medical conspiracy theories: cognitive science and implications for ethics.’ Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 23:505-518.

  7. Dr Greg Mewett (Palliative Care Physician) says:

    Conspiracy theories are one thing and, as scientifically trained professionals, we can often quite easily poo-poo these people as harmless nutters!
    However, when these distorted thought processes progress and spillover into nasty & vile threats, and even actual violence, then as a society we need to be alarmed and take action through the law enforcement mechanisms available to us.
    These potentially dangerous people (too often anonymous) are delusional and irrational and so resistant to normal logical, rational argument about the issues at hand.
    It’s a fine balance between “giving them oxygen” and setting strong limits in a so-called civilised society.

  8. David King says:

    I wonder what consequences these people will face for their real (not imagined) crimes against humanity (vaccine preventable deaths) and disruption to a ‘civil’ society?
    I wonder why they were reluctant to disclosed their name, as a freedom fighter in a life and death struggle?

  9. Anonymous says:

    This is appalling. But what do we do to starve these people of oxygen to prevent this kind action becoming more prevalent?

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